July 15 – 17, 2011
As effortless as she made every step on the dance floor look, Ginger Rogers (1911-1995) became one of the biggest female stars in Hollywood the old-fashioned way: with plenty of hard work. At 14, a state championship as a Charleston dancer launched her on the theater circuit, eventually taking her to Broadway. Her success in George & Ira Gershwin’s musical “Girl Crazy” paved the way for a film career; Ginger soon found herself at RKO, which paired her with a hoofer named Fred Astaire. They would make 10 pictures together, revolutionizing the movie musical in the process. In darkened theaters in the depths of the Great Depression, the two were more than just an evening’s entertainers; immaculately dressed and impeccably poised, Astaire and Rogers became synonymous with style and grace.
When a magician makes objects appear and disappear at will, most onlookers understand that there is some trickery afoot, but if the sleight of hand is sufficiently skilled, they open themselves to wonder and amazement anyway. And that’s the only reaction possible to Fred and Ginger’s acrobatics in “Waltz in Swing Time” or “Pick Yourself Up” from SWING TIME, one of the best-loved Astaire-Rogers pairings. FOLLOW THE FLEET features equally dazzling numbers like “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” (as well as Ginger’s only solo dance, “Let Yourself Go”). It didn’t hurt that composers of the caliber of Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and Cole Porter were supplying the music - songs like “Cheek to Cheek” and “Night and Day” added just the right sparkle to the champagne of TOP HAT and THE GAY DIVORCEE.
Join us for a centennial salute to one of the true icons of Hollywood’s Golden Age, Ginger Rogers, which also includes SHALL WE DANCE and CAREFREE.
"The magic of Astaire and Rogers cannot be explained; it can only be felt. They created a style, a mood, a happening. They flirted, chased, courted, slid, caressed, hopped, skipped, jumped, bent, swayed, clasped, wafted, undulated, nestled, leapt, quivered, glided, spun - in sum, made love before our eyes. We have not seen their like since." - Garson Kanin
Series compiled by Grant Moninger and Gwen Deglise. Program notes by John Hagelston.